Consumer attention spans are dwindling. Surely you’ve read the statistics by now—that over the past 15 years, human attention spans have decreased from 12 to 8.25 seconds, surpassed by that of a goldfish, making millennials more forgetful than senior citizens.

And to make matters worse for businesses, the average American is exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 marketing messages per day. That means that in today’s hyper-stimulated and highly distractible market, focus is an invaluable commodity. If retailers can get consumers to stop and focus on their brand or product instead of their cellphone, grocery list, or daydream, then they’ll be much more likely to capture a sale.

In other words, your in-store display designs need to engage your potential customers. They need to compel consumers to stop, interact with the display, seek more information on a given product, and, hopefully, decide to toss it in their shopping cart to give it a try.

How to Design Engaging Retail Displays: 4 Expert Tips

1. Clearly Define Your Vision and Scope

One of the biggest reasons that retailers hit a wall when designing a new retail display is that they neglected to carefully define their process upfront. If you don’t understand the full scope, vision, and goal for your idea, then you’re going to struggle to bring your ideas to life in a quick and efficient manner.

For this reason, the team at InStore Design Display has worked to build and refine our five-step design process. By collaborating with our clients heavily in the beginning to understand their brand, products, values, and goals—and setting tentative timelines for the deliverables at each stage—we’re able to put the pivotal solution in our clients hands with speed and agility.

InStore Design Display 5-Step Process

2. Appeal to the Five Senses

When we talk about "creating an engaging in-store experience" for consumers, what we’re really talking about is appealing to their five senses. Sound, touch, smell, and taste are the multi-sensory experiences that consumers can’t possibly get online.

In fact, surveys have determined that “the ability to touch and try on items is three times more influential than other options in a consumer’s decision to make a purchase in a physical store.” When consumers encounter compelling in-store displays that appeal to their senses, they’re more likely to remember the experience and invest in your brand.

Unique scents, flashing lights, motion-activated displays in static spaces are all great examples of sensory elements that pattern-interrupt the consumer’s common behavior in the retail environment, i.e., catch their attention.

3. Make the Best Use of Your Space

If you heard “engaging” and first thought of a very large, vibrant display, don’t worry! You can design very small, on-the-shelf displays to engage your customers as well.

In industries like cannabis especially, retailers are often constrained to a small amount of real estate; products must be displayed in glass cases or similar environments, and you need innovation to occur on a smaller physical scale.

For example, our client Craft came to us when they were looking for ways to differentiate themselves under glass. Rather than taking a square block and putting their logo on it—as often happens with smaller counter displays like these—we cut out an octagon block and included a small video screen to help them stand out among the rest.

Craft Cannabis Retail Underglass Display

The bottom line is: Don’t let a small space inhibit your creativity. Sometimes, less is more.

4. Maintain Cohesion Across Channels

Many consumers today browse online and shop in-store, or visa versa—and 84 percent of those consumers feel retailers should do more to integrate their online and offline channels.

At this point, most retailers understand that maintaining their online presence is a critical marketing and sales strategy, but they forget to tell a consistent brand story when they transition between online and in-store channels.

Creating a cohesive consumer experience between online and in-store channels is two-fold:

1. Analyze consumer engagement with your digital story.

What content are they engaging with most? How are they responding to that content? Are these digital personas the same personas you want to engage physically? Which messages are your digital competitors sending out, and how successful have those messages been?

The answers to these questions will not only help you marry the look and feel of your digital and physical marketing materials, but also help spark creative ideas for engaging in-store display designs.

2. Get out of the office and profile the environment that will feature your display.

It’s not always possible for retailers to visit all of the stores where their products will be displayed, but designing an engaging, functional, and on-brand display requires an in-depth understanding of human behavior within the physical retail environment.

Step into the store and try to understand the flow of foot traffic around the store, the types of products that will be displayed near yours, the personalities and demographics of the people who are likely to engage with your display, and other details about the physical environment. The display you create for a large, national retailer might not work in a small, independent folk store, so you need to understand these nuances and account for them in your design.

Many retailers run digital promotions to drive foot traffic to their brick-and-mortar store, and you never know which consumers will happen upon your display by accident and which will be compelled to visit because of their interaction with your digital marketing materials—so maintaining consistency in these campaigns is critical.

Make Your Point-of-Purchase Display POP with InStore Design Display

Today’s consumers are looking for “instagrammable” moments when they step into the brick-and-mortar sales environment. The more engaging and experiential your in-store displays are, the more likely you’ll be to retain and grow your customer base.

But conceptualizing, designing, and delivering the ideal retail display can be a cumbersome process for smaller brands. With years of experience creating custom display and retail environments for retailers and product brands, InStore Design Display can provide the end-to-end solution for ideating, developing, and distributing your displays.

Got a project in mind? Schedule a free consultation to share your vision and we’ll get back to you with ideas on how to make it come to life.

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